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Opinionista

Dear MEC Maile, this is the legacy left behind by the ANC in Tshwane and Joburg

Solly Msimanga is the current mayor of The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. See his Wikipedia profile.

Your claim that one of the ‘unintended consequences of the outcomes of the 2016 local government elections has been the debunking of the myth (lie) that the DA is innately more competent and cleaner than the ANC when it comes to issues of governance’ is disingenuous, to say the least. What you fail to mention, is that DA-led administrations in Tshwane and Joburg took over metros that had been severely crippled by widespread looting and mismanagement, and were on the brink of collapse. This is the legacy left behind by your party, and I have the figures to prove it.

We inherited a R2-billion deficit from the ANC government in Tshwane but were able to correct this, and showed a surplus already at the end of the first financial year in office in 2017. We stabilised the city of Tshwane’s finances by strengthening controls over supply chain processes, slashing unauthorised and unnecessary expenditure and extricating the city from unlawful and expensive contracts which benefited a few politically connected individuals.

Unauthorised expenditure was, therefore, reduced from R1.6-billion in the 2015/16 financial year to R634-million in the 2016/17 financial year. We also inherited an R8-billion infrastructure maintenance backlog which we dealt with by consecutively funding capital budgets focused on improved service delivery and strategic infrastructure development.

In Joburg, the DA-led administration inherited a city that faced slow growth rates, increasing unemployment and a 10-year infrastructure backlog which amounts to R170 billion. It also had to deal with overloaded substations that are 60-years-old, 31 per cent water loss, essential road repairs that amount to R5 billion and a huge maintenance backlog.

Under Mayor Herman Mashaba’s leadership, we turned the city into a pro-poor one focusing on upgrading and improving conditions in the city’s 119 informal settlements; 60% of the city’s capital expenditure was spent in poor areas. The city’s spend of its capital budget reached 91% and 98.5% of its spending on infrastructure grants by the end of the 2017/18 financial year. So yes, MEC Maile, this is indeed why Mayor Mashaba has asked for more time to fulfil his mandate – you simply cannot undo decades of such large-scale rot in a mere 5 years.

MEC Maile, the hostile provincial government of which you are a part, has slowed down service delivery in DA-run metros due to the lack of support for housing developments, title deeds, and infrastructure upgrades, to name a few.

Despite these obstacles, the DA has still managed to improve service delivery for the residents of Tshwane and Joburg. A total of 3,298 title deeds were issued by the city of Joburg in 2017/18 and 2,762 title deeds were issued in the previous financial year. This brings the total number of title deeds issued by the DA-led administration to 6,060. The number of social and affordable housing units developed for under-privileged beneficiaries across the City of Joburg rose from 800 in the 2015/16 to 1,172 in 2016/17 and a further 1,211 in the 2017/18 financial years showing sustainable growth. In 2015/16 the number of mixed housing opportunities created was 3,569 and in 2016/17 it increased to 3,750. To date, the DA-led City of Joburg has accumulatively provided 13,114 mixed housing opportunities since 2014.

In Tshwane, 918 new houses had been completed in Refilwe Manor, Fort West, Mamelodi, Zithobeni, Kudube and Zithobeni in the 2016/2017 financial year and were allocated to qualifying beneficiaries. However, the impact of an unco-operative province is evident at the Riverside Housing Project, where the completion of 1 485 RDP units has been stalled due to the Gauteng Provincial Government’s irrational decision to reduce of the city’s Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) funding.

The DA-led Tshwane administration has also been hard at working, cleaning up your Party’s mess, MEC Maile, such as the ANC administration’s abandoned and incomplete housing project in Ga-Rankuwa Unit 10 in the city of Tshwane. This project had been left incomplete for the past five years by the previous administration and was meant to provide 850 walk-up flat units for Ga-Rankuwa residents.

However, MEC Maile, I suggest that you look in the mirror before casting the first stone.

Under your watch as the MEC for Economic, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, your department spent R4-million on advertising – over and above this item’s R14-million budget – instead of much-needed job creation and youth empowerment programmes. You presided over continuous mismanagement of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, and you have certainly failed our province’s small-scale farming co-operatives despite having the mechanisms meant to provide funding and necessary support to these initiatives. And worse of all, you sat by while the pollution of the Vaal River became one of the worst human rights disasters seen by this province. Hardly conditions which are conducive to a thriving economy.

So MEC Maile, instead of crowing about how difficult you have made it for us to govern the cities of Joburg and Tshwane, I suggest that you rather focus your efforts on assisting our metros to achieve meaningful economic growth that would alleviate some of the economic hardship being experienced by the residents of this province. After all, is that not our purpose as public representatives? DM

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